What do countries like The US, Canada, the UK, Australia, China, New Zealand and Germany have in common? They all have a huge influx of international students every year. But what contributes to students leaving their home country to study abroad? You might think the answer is superior educational institutions, world-class faculty or a myriad of scholars available to international students. But have you ever thought about how student exchange programs affect overseas education? Probably not, right? Student exchange programs are one of the most underrated mediums that boost overseas higher education. An International Student Exchange Program is a study curriculum for students where they can attend classes at international institutes. Most students do not know how student exchange programs work and what they entail. This is why we’ve created a comprehensive guide on student exchange programs titled, “Student exchange program: All you need to know”.
What Is Student Exchange Program?
We start our student exchange program: All you need to know guide by answering this basic question.
But before that, I am reminded of a beautiful quote that fits perfectly in the context of student exchange.
“A comfort zone is a beautiful place, but nothing ever grows there”.
You may feel safe and comfortable within your own university, city or country but have you ever wondered what lies beyond the comforts of your surroundings?
Student exchange programs are one of the best ways to experience international education and culture without having to spend a lot of time away from home. Although they differ from studying abroad, it can be a useful way for students to experience life outside of their home country. An exchange student typically acts as an ambassador for his/her country and travels abroad to study, learn, and impart knowledge about his/her culture. Most students who take part in student exchange programs are between the ages of 15 and 21 years.
How Does Student Exchange Program Work?
The next important question in our “student exchange program: All you need to know” guide is this. In order to partake in a student exchange program, you will need to contact a student exchange agency and inquire about the programs they offer. Once you find a relevant student exchange program, the agency will guide you in applying for an exchange program at a school or university and find you a host family in the host country. Chances are, the agency volunteers will travel with you in order to help you transition to the new environment.
If you were wondering, “Are student exchange programs worth it?” Here’s what you can look forward to. The value of a student exchange program lies in the fact that it can greatly boost your self-confidence and help you gain a better understanding of the complexities of the world. You can find many great agencies that conduct student exchange programs throughout the world.
Different Types Of Student Exchange Programs
In our guide – student exchange program: All you need to know, it is important to know the different types of student exchange programs that are available.
There are two types of student exchange programs: Short-term exchange and Long-term exchange.
Short Term Exchange
The duration of a short term student exchange program can range anywhere from one week to three months. The good thing about short term exchange programs is that there are no requirements for students to study at any college or institution. Students get firsthand knowledge of other traditions, languages and customs. These programs are often called summer or intensive or cultural exchange programs and they are ideal for students interested in service to the community and cultural activities. Students can apply to government or private agencies for short term student exchanges.
Long Term Exchange
A long term student exchange is generally between six to twelve months. For long term student exchanges, a student will typically require a student visa. Students travelling to the United States will generally require a J-1 cultural exchange visa or an F-1 foreign student visa.
The challenge of this type of student exchange program is that students need to integrate into the host family and immerse themselves in the local community and surroundings. Since these programs last for at least 6 months, it is important that students are flexible and open-minded, so that they can have a pleasant stay in the host country.
Students interested in long term students exchange programs are expected to know the language of the host country. For instance, there are some programs that require students to complete a standardized test for English language proficiency before being accepted into a program that takes them to the U.S.
It’s also acceptable to display at least some level of proficiency in the host country language, as, during your student exchange program, you will get opportunities to improve your fluency in the host country’s language.
Benefits Of Student Exchange Program
The most important part of our “student exchange program: All you need to know” guide is highlighting the benefits of embarking on a student exchange program. So, here they are –
1. Personal Growth
Living abroad by oneself guarantees personal growth like no other. By staying on your own, away from your friends and family, will lead to increased self-esteem and self-confidence. Student exchange programs also help with strengthening decision-making skills and critical thinking of students, not to mention the understanding and appreciation of other country’s cultures and traditions. Staying abroad really changes one’s outlook on life.
2. A Cheaper Alternative To Overseas Education
We’re all well aware of the high costs involved in studying abroad, but a great way to meander around this problem is by enrolling in a student exchange program. Students can gain valuable exposure to living abroad at a tiny fraction of the cost when travelling internationally on a student exchange program.
3. Exposure To A New Education System
Every country has its own education system. At student exchange programs, students get introduced to new to alternative educational methods, that they’re very likely to bring back to their home country and exchange with their peers. Student exchange programs not only affect the exchange students but also their classmates back home.
4. Create Life-Long Friendships
Student exchange programs allow students to live in the host nation with a foster family for an extended period of time. This makes students appreciative of the way of living, culture and traditions of the host country. All of this creates a strong bond between the exchange student and the host family. Moreover, if the exchange student ever decides to move abroad, the learnings at the student exchange come in handy. This is why students develop life-long relationships during their student exchange programs.
5. Learn A New Language
When you go on a student exchange, you will have the opportunity to learn the language of the host country. There are many student exchange programs to the USA, France, Spain, Singapore and other popular student countries. It’s very likely that the language spoken in these countries are different from the one you speak. Student exchange programs will force you to learn the language of your host country, thereby giving you a new skill of speaking in a new language.
How To Become An Exchange Student?
Now that we’re certain our “student exchange program: All you need to know” guide has enticed you to take part in a student exchange program, let’s figure out how you can become an exchange student. You can either be an exchange student by inquiring about exchange programs at your university or you can look around for exchange companies that place students in various countries. We recommend you approach exchange companies as they have a proven track record of successful student exchanges. Make sure you review the qualifications for enrollment, certification, and the length of the course before applying for it. Also, consider the overall cost of the student exchange program and pursue international student grants to make your student exchange program more viable.
Some Important Tips You Should Know Before Joining A Student Exchange
Talk to your university counsellor
The best thing to do before you contemplate applying for student exchanges is to talk to your university counsellor. Your university counsellor will supply you with all the information regarding the student exchange so that you can prepare your profile and improve your chances of acceptance. Every exchange program comes with its own set prerequisites that the students need to fulfil in order to be selected.
Work on your academic performance
One of the most important aspects that determine whether or not you’ll be selected for an exchange program is your grades. Your grades indicate whether you are really interested in education and can truly benefit from this program abroad. The deciding committee needs assurances that you will be a positive representative of their home country, which is why having good grades is so important.
Prepare well for the interview
Acing your exchange program interview is very important if you want to be selected. Once your application passes the initial stages, you will be called for an interview with the deciding committee. The committee will gauge your interest and how serious you are to take part in the student exchange program. You need to know your statement of purpose well enough to tell the selection committee confidently why you are the best candidate for it. The committee looks for students who are eager to learn, open-minded, and mature enough to adapt to a different culture for the duration of their stay.
A student exchange program can be a life-changing experience. Make sure to be on your best behaviour, as you are a representative of your home country. Be prepared to meet fierce competition as many students apply for exchange programs but only a handful of them are chosen. Remember to keep an open mind and be receptive to what you learn in your host country.